Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant Retrospective

Calling it "tough as nails", Bits n' Bytes brings us a short retrospective of what is hands-down my favorite Wizardry title of all-time: Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant.
Over the years, I've started new games of Wizardry many times, and still have many of the maps I made for the game (they're around here somewhere, but I couldn't find them for this article.) The game was endlessly punishing. Lose one of your six party members early on to death or a stone spell, and you may as well kiss that poor bastard good-bye, 'cause you aren't seeing them again for another 10-20 levels of gameplay. When you finally had the gold/magic/super secret artifact that could cure or revive your fallen comrade, you still had to level them up to where the rest of your team was.

The objective of the game was to track down various maps scattered around the game world, which you could eventually use to obtain the Cosmic Forge. or something. But as if you didn't have enough working against you, there was the added element of a bunch of computer controlled adventuring parties running around trying to get the same items. Did you want to spend an hour grinding to raise everyone's level and have a fighting chance against the next boss battle? Well, to bad, 'cause now the part of rat people has the first map you needed to pick up. Try to hunt them down and get the map from them? Well, now the gun toting rhino looking people got the second map in the mean time. What do you have to show for hours of gameplay? A half broken party and piles and piles of hand drawn maps on graph paper. Oh, the good old days of PC gaming.
Great times, great times.